CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (Dec. 30, 2011) --Defending champion Paula Reto of Cape Town, South Africa, a junior at Purdue University, was one shot back of Thai teenager Moriya Jutanugarn after the first round Friday of the women’s Dixie Amateur at Heron Bay Golf Club.
Jutanugarn’s 4-under 68 was one better than Reto and two up on England’s Rachel Drummond. One of the local favorites, Jaye Marie Green of Boca Raton, ranked 19th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), was tied for fourth with Lisbeth Brooks of Waunakee, Wisc., and Nicole Quinn of Windermere, Fla.
Moriya’s sister, Ariya, 16, ranked eighth in the world by WAGR, was tied for seventh with nine other golfers at even-par 72: Brooke Baker of Raleigh, N.C., Carly Goldstein of Coral Springs, Fla., Claudia De Antonio of Weston, Fla., Haley Wilson of Fort Mitchell, Ala., Heather Lott of Baton Rouge, La., Kaitlyn Price of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., Katie Mitchell of Fernandina Beach, Fla., Madison Opfer of Plant City, Fla., and England’s Holly Clyburn, ranked 23rd in the world.
In total, 20 golfers are within five shots of the leader.
Diane Lang of Weston, Fla., appeared well on her way after the first round to becoming the only woman to win the Senior Division in its three-year history, shooting a 1-under 71 to take a four-shot lead over Anna Schultz of Rockwell, Texas.
Almost 100 top female amateur golfers from 21 U.S. states and nine other countries are competing this weekend in the Dixie Amateur, one of the most prestigious championships in the world. The women’s championship is played over 72 holes (Friday through Monday) with a 36-hole cut, while the seniors play 54 holes (no cut) from Friday through Sunday.
The women’s division of the Dixie Amateur was instituted in 2002. Since then, it has featured world-class fields and an impressive list of champions who went on to make their mark on the LPGA.
The inaugural women's champion, future LPGA winner Meaghan Francella, narrowly defeated Paula Creamer, now an LPGA superstar. In 2007, the sensational Alexis Thompson won at the age of 12 before breaking onto the professional scene this year, becoming the youngest-ever to win on the LPGA and European women’s tours at 16. (Her brother, Curtis, a freshman at Louisiana State University, won this year’s men’s Dixie Amateur on Dec. 22.) That same year, two-time Dixie champion Angela Park (2003, 2005) was named the LPGA’s rookie of the year.
There is no admission charge and spectators are welcome.